Sunday, February 6, 2011

If Google Posts a Job Opening, Does it Really Count as a Job Opportunity?

We've all heard about Google's exclusive hiring practices and how they go through extraordinary efforts to hire what they consider only the most exceptional candidates. So it struck me the other day as I waded through a LinkedIn job search where where the first two or three pages of results were Google listings, if Google posts a job opening, does it really count as a job opportunity?

Consider this recent news from Google, Google gets 75,000 job apps in a week - for 6000 openings. That works out to about 1200 applicants per job. While you could look at this from a lot of angles -- hiring on internet scale, the compelling value of Google's work environment strategy, or even the real sucktacular nature of the economy -- let's think about how many of those 1200 people actually have a shot at that job. While you could argue that 1 in 1200 is a lot better odds than you have for winning the lottery, your odds of winning the lottery are simple probability. For those 1200 individuals, there are factors for qualification, differentiation, and probably a bunch of invisible, unspoken ones as well. For many of those 1200 applicants, the odds of winning the Google job lottery is actually zero.

Is a Google Job Listing the Equivalent of Spam?
Out of that group of 1200 people applying for an opening at Google, my guess is that there is probably a list of preferred candidates drawn from employee recommendations or other more direct submissions. But let's assume for a minute that the process is open. Following on the themes that I talked about in one of my Please Hire Me posts, how do you differentiate yourself in a pool of over 1200 people? Imagine a person reading 250 resumes per day for per position with a constant stream of new resumes coming in all of the time -- and that's just reading them, not following up, etc. If you think about that kind of scale, at best you're looking at an algorithmic scan of them all. At worst, you're looking at a giant pool of resumes that are simply ignored.

Think about what that means in terms of timing for when you submit you're resume. In the old days, you might have a week or two to position yourself, customize your resume, and focus your cover letter. If you're submitting to a position at Google, all that time you spent has just put you in the back of a chronological line 1200 people deep -- 1200 people whose 15 or so skills listed as requirements also match the position.

Finding the Deeper Meaning in Google's Applicant Volume
If you think about that pool of 1200 or so candidates and the difficulty of filtering that pool, you might start to wonder whether that type of process would yield a top-tier, unique candidate. Or even the most qualified. So, if you can't find the perfect drop of water when you're looking at the lake, why would you use a process that created so much water? What if the purpose of having so many candidates isn't to look at the candidates, but rather to provide statistical data that supports the idea that you looked at lots of people before you selected the candidate that you chose? The question is, are those 75000 resumes really about 75000 candidates or simply better justification for the 6000 that Google does choose, assuming that they fill each position from the pool that was generated that week. What about the candidates that they target and recruit, like from Apple or Microsoft?

The funny thing about all of this is that many job search sites (like Linked In) include check boxes so that you can just search listings from a specific company. When you look at the numbers, perhaps what they need is support for exclusion filters or Boolean search terms like, "not Google".

UPDATE:  I did a some research and experimentation using the Linked In search function. It turns out that there is Boolean support in Advanced Search. You can use AND, OR, or NOT, but they have to be in capital letters. While I was able to make this work in the Keyword search field, the company field doesn't appear to support Boolean search. So, if you want to filter Google out of your search results, you can add NOT google to the Keywords search, but you also risk filtering out jobs that might include Google as part of a skill or a capability.

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